Introduction

The Government is regularly updating the public on the sequenced roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations and further information will be released over the coming weeks and months. The plan takes a risk-based approach to providing early access to the vaccine, prioritising people most at risk of harm if they get the virus and those who live and work in places where they are most likely to be exposed to COVID-19.

This guidance is issued by the Public Service Commissioner as operational guidance to support the COVID-19 Workforce Vaccinations Guidance published on 2 March 2021. It supports agencies to give effect to the expectation that all employees in the Public Service who can be vaccinated are vaccinated.

The vaccination roll-out plan

Managing the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain and distribution of the vaccination is complex and very different to the annual influenza vaccination roll-out. Agencies may have staff in different priority groups, receiving vaccinations at different times, and not all vaccinations will occur in the workplace.

The Ministry of Health has contacted agencies that have staff in priority groups 1 and 2. People in these groups are likely to receive the vaccine at or near places of employment. Agencies may need to assist the Ministry of Health identify staff early, including at-risk staff living in the Counties Manukau DHB district (Group 2b). This group has been identified as a priority with many border operations and MIQ facilities based in the district.

The Ministry of Health is advancing planning for priority groups 3 and 4 and agencies will be updated when more information becomes available. Different vaccination sites will be offered to these two groups to make getting the vaccine as easy as possible, including through Māori and Pacific providers, GPs, pop-up centres, pharmacies, medical and hauora centres and community clinics.

Plan:

All agencies can demonstrate exemplary leadership through being well prepared early, in readiness for the sequenced COVID-19 vaccination roll-out programme.

All agencies should be organised and prepared to support the Ministry of Health with the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.

This may include using workplaces for vaccinations as the vaccination programme is rolled out to the general population. It may also include providing useful information gathered during elevated alert levels or on file that will support the categorising of staff into the priority groups.

In preparation, all agencies should review relevant information provided on the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, COVID-19, and WorkSafe websites.

Engage with unions and staff early in the planning and ensure you are using the most up-to-date information from the Ministry of Health.

The Ministry of Health is preparing further information on the scheduling of vaccination appointments. It is likely Group 2 will be managed regionally through district health boards and further information on Groups 3 and 4 will be provided as it becomes available.

Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission will provide further updates when information becomes available.

Educate:

Assure staff and unions that if personal information is required from agencies to support the vaccine sequencing and roll-out correct privacy and consent protocols will be followed and all information will be treated as confidential and only accessed by appropriate personnel.

Provide the most up-to-date official information available from the Ministry of Health or COVID-19 on the benefits of the vaccination to individuals and the community.

Continue to update staff on the vaccination roll-out and timeframes as new information becomes available.

Be alert to scams and misinformation. Be aware of incorrect information on social media and other places and get accurate and trusted information. More information can also be found at CERTNZ.

You may wish to set up information meetings or use bulletins to update staff when important messaging is required.

Use managers, union delegates, health and safety representatives and other key staff to lead and support the vaccination conversation.

There is a helpful tool available on the Covid-19 website that staff can use to find out when they will get their vaccination. Encourage staff to use it.

Expect:

At the appropriate point in the sequenced vaccination roll-out senior leaders should role model and encourage staff to be vaccinated.

Support:

Employees should be paid for the time required to complete the vaccination process and any time off required to deal with immediate or adverse effects from the vaccine on the individual staff member may be treated as paid special leave.

Ensure staff are given adequate time to complete the vaccination process and, if off-site, include travel time.

Acknowledge and support staff who may require more information and time to make an informed decision on receiving the vaccine.

Support staff choice of vaccination provider such as their own doctor.

Encourage employees to ask questions that enable staff to make an informed decision on being vaccinated.

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